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Thursday, February 02, 2006

End of the Spear Controversy

End of the Spear is a film that recounts a story cherished by evangelicals: the murder of five missionaries by Ecuadorian tribesmen, who later convert to the faith. The film has been supported by Steve Saint, a son of one of the victims, as well as by Mincayani, one of the tribesmen involved in the killings. It also stars a gay actor and activist, Chad Allen, which has caused controversy with some Christian leaders and bloggers (read this CT piece for a summary). Here are some comments of certain evangelicals toward the film and casting of Mr. Allen:

"Granted, we must not overreact. And it would probably be an overreaction to firebomb these men's houses. But what they have done is no mistake. It is a calculated strategy."
--posting on website of Kevin T. Bauder, president of Central Baptist Seminary

Yeah, firebombing probably would be an overreaction.

"Many evangelicals are concerned that young people inspired by the movie will look up Mr. Allen on the Web and "get exposed to his views on homosexuality, and that would cause some of them to question Biblical views of homosexuality and every other sin,"
--Will Hall, executive director of BPNews.net, Southern Baptist Convention news service

If this is the case, why stop at film? We better forbid our children to buy products, eat at restaraunts, visit public spaces of any kind where they might actually come across a gay person. Because this exposure clearly will lead them to succumb to the homosexual lifestyle, if not "every other sin." Once they learn to work that Google, it's over. (Then there's that pesky little issue of how our culture fortresses can't keep the sin out of our hearts...see Man, Fall of)

"Steve has sadly contributed to tarnishing the memory and mission of his own father by this unfortunate severe lapse of biblical discernment (1 Thess. 5:21ff)."
--Steve Camp, CCM singer and blogger

If you're comfortable enough determining who's (not) a regenerate Christian, I guess you're not far off from being able to tell someone that he just spit on his father's grave.

You sense my frustration. Look, the casting of Allen does present ironies if not outright dilemmas. Saint himself said so, but has continued to offer Allen support (see below). But how far do these culture warriors want to take this? Because the logical conclusion of this approach leaves you in a cultural hermetic bubble, without any relationship to those of differing beliefs and practices. This isn't about surrendering to PC ideologies. It's about loving our neighbors and not confusing "in the world" with "of the world."

On the flip side, Steve Saint is a Christian who does not agree with homosexuality. And yet, here's what Chad Allen had to say about him on Larry King Live:

Steve Saint called me today, and he said, I need you to know that I'm sitting here with Mincayani. We'll be watching you tonight. We love you. We are on your side. And I know that we have those differences, but we are walking through this together. That's where we're going to go.

Loving our neighbors even when we disagree with them. Maybe the public face of evangelical Christianity that's been presented to Mr. Allen won't chase him away for good after all.

P.S. It should be pointed out that many evangelicals are critiquing the merits of the film itself and not for its culture war fodder. Read here and here for two examples.

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